Ana Juan: Creating Stories with Illustrations

Ana Juan: Creating Stories with Illustrations

 

Ana Juan is a Spanish artist, illustrator and painter. She has designed more than 20 covers over the years for The New Yorker. She has also illustrated many Isabel Allende's book covers. After graduating Universidad Politecnica in Valencia Fine Arts, she moved to Madrid and collaborated with magazines such as La Luna and Madriz. She has been numerously honored for her illustrations with such awards as Gold Medal by the Society of Newspaper Design and “Premio Nacional de Ilustracion” by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Currently She creates her own books, texts and illustrations, exhibits her work all over the world and contributes to many Spanish and international magazines.

Q: How is your personality reflected in your work?

A: In everything, in every choice of color, in any line pulsation. Frequently the people use saying than I look like my characters :)

Q: How do you define creativity?

A: Communication.

Q: When and how did you discover that creating was something you absolutely had to do? What was your first experience?

A: This is the night of times, I am not conscious about my first experience or: I grew up surrounded by adults and drawing was a good shelter for building my world. Today I can say drawing is my home, a safe place where I am watching and interpreting  the world. Some of my relatives had affinities for art, music, and creative cooking. but I was the only one stubborn enough to go ahead in the art world. My mother was an intelligent woman and she pushed me to develop my art skills. Every day after school time I visited the Public Art School until at 16 I passed the exam to enter the Fine Art School. The rest of the story is well known.

Q: What do you want your visitors to feel looking at your artworks? How do you measure the success of a design?

A: The first addresses of my artwork is myself, I don't want to think about anyone else, and only  being honest and sincere in my work to transmit emotions. Only we can speak about the success of design when the author message wants to express is satisfactory received by the reader.

Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

A: Inspiration is in any place, my eyes have to be ready to catch the moment, the color, the form, etc. which can be a source of inspiration. When you look for inspiration you have to look far from your own field (in my case, the illustration world). Better to look at movies, listen to music, read poetry or just walk on the streets than to look for inspiration in the work of other illustrator.

Q: What is the most important part of your creation process? What tools and techniques do you use?

A: As time passes, my art tools are getting reduced I use acrylic on paper, colored pencils, charcoal. Once the art is ready it gets digitized and retouched in Photoshop, as needed. I have the odious habit of working in large sizes that are a problem when it comes to scanning. But a problem always has a solution.

Q: Your work has been manifested in numerous galleries and collections.  What is your best achievement throughout your life?

A: In fact it's not an artwork , is was an association of many disciplines and a great teamwork. A couple of years ago, I had the luck to live one of the most passionate adventures in my life. Unit Experimental, a research team from The Fine Arts University in Valencia, asked me to do an “innovative” exhibition. As usual, I accepted immediately without thinking.  Their proposal was to do an exhibition about the creative process of two of my illustrated books: “Another Turn of the Screw” by Henry James and “Snowhite,” for which I am the author and illustrator.

The exhibition was to incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality, so working with this great team I developed characters for animations, the team created an app, “Ana Juan, dibujando el otro lado” and also videos and other images to use with oculus glasses. The most amazing thing for me was the creation of a video game “Erthaland” relating the troubles of the little “Snowhite." The video game only developed the first chapter, but we are still working to get three more. The adventure continues! I was always pretty sure that my style would not be the right one to be animated, but after seeing the first tests of this animation I am very excited with the results. The exhibition has been in In Valencia and in ABC Museum of Illustration in Madrid with great success.

Q: What is the artwork of yours you are most proud of? Why?

A: It's not easy to speak about one artwork but for a couple of reasons my book untitled “Snowhite” is something to remark. First, I had struggled to work in black and white in my style and couldn’t find a good solution. Second, I was ready to do a book, but hadn’t been able to find a story to tell.  After a trip to Paris, and a visit to some museums and some walks, I realized the solution to my illustration problems: I would work as I did in my student time mostly with charcoal, pencils, blending stumps...

So I illustrated “Snowhite based on the Grimm's Tale “Snow White” a story for adults far from the sweet versions we all know. The story was born and done with my old student tools. The solution to years of troubles was so close Second, this book opened a door for me. Since then I have worked in black and white a lot,  and developed a successful style. And I have done other books, such as “Demeter”, “Circus”, “Carmilla” and ”Lacrimosa”...

Q: What do you like the most about creating?

A: Thinking , doing, acting, of course!

Q: What is the driving force behind what you are currently making?

A: My  forces are my own sense of being frightened by life... this is involved in everything I am doing and paradoxically makes me courageous.


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